Saturday, September 8, 2012

THE DAY THE VOICE CRACKED...













If I tell you, today, 8th September, is the feast of Nativity, you will surely ask me, “What is that?” Yes, unless you are a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic like me.


So, I will take a short-cut here and tell you, today is Mother Mary’s b’day. 


And, let me tell you, that it is a big day for all of us… a real family day.


As little kids, we would go around our neighborhood in Mangalore and collect the choicest flowers to offer Mother Mary. That was in the evenings after coming from school. The next day, early in the morning, before going to the school, we had to take our beautifully flower-decorated plates and go to our church. We would go in a procession, singing the famous Mother-Mary hymn in Konkani, and shower Her with our flowers. There would be one ‘special’ flower in the plate… and, that had to be kept at Her feet… we would bend down and kiss her feet:

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now…
And at the hour of our death. Amen”


For nine days before the Nativity feast, we kids would be so excited to pick flowers from all around our village… just to be ready for the next morning. 


“Don’t steal flowers from anyone’s house,” we were advised by our elders as well as Sunday-school teachers, “Mother Mary would not approve it.” So, we would confidently walk into someone’s courtyard and gracefully request for flowers for Mother Mary. Believe me, we were never sent back empty-handed. 



On the day of the feast, we kids got our share of reward for our spirited devotion to Mother Mary: a really long, hefty and juicy  sugarcane! We carried it home the way Alexander-the-Great would return after his long-and-hard-won battle!


At home, the ladies had the busiest time of the year. They had to cook not less than seven different vegetables, including the dreaded bitter gourd! They could not cook non-veg on this day… We had to eat ‘Noven’… i.e., the first crop. It was a symbolic gesture. A few grains of new rice, blessed by the priest in the church in the morning that day, would be powdered at home, mixed with pure milk, and before we ate our lavish lunch, we would savor a sip of the precious ‘Noven’. 


Well, this was always a very moving experience in our house. 


My grandpa, a typical villager, had eight children, including my dad, the eldest. He had four sons and four daughters. When we were kids, our grandpa and grandma lived with us. All our uncles and aunts were away in Mumbai or other cities. So, at the feast lunch, my dad, mom and we five kids would huddle around our grandparents, and our grandpa, the ‘Karta’, would begin to say the traditional prayer. It was the moment for him to remember all his other children (and their beloved families) who lived away from home. For them he would offer three Hail Mary’s… 


But, half-way along the very first Hail Mary, our grandpa’s voice would crack and finally get completely choked-up. We kids did not understand why our grandpa – a robust-looking man - would become so emotional and cry like a baby…


Yes, there would be this embarrassing silence, invariably on every feast day… and, yes, our mother had to take off from where our grandpa had crashed!


Even today, I fail to understand, why he never asked my mother to do the ritual of saying those prayers…





Perhaps, those prayers 


were not just some rituals 


for this simple village soul…













And, as I type this Post – 1.20 to be precise on the clock – right at the same venue in Mangalore, my mother must have huddled around her daughter-in-law and grandchildren… It is her turn now to say three Hail Mary’s for her sons (and their beloved families) who are away from home… I am sure, half-way along the first Hail May, her voice would crack and she would be completely choked with emotions… and, I am sure, it would be for my sister-in-law, Merlyn, to take off from where my mom had crashed!


I can not type any further…


“Happy b’day, Mother Mary…”


“A happy feast to all of you.”











GERALD D’CUNHA

Pics.: Vivek D'Cunha

YouTube video courtesy: Cresilla Rodrigues, Roshan D'Silva, Vivian Prashanth Pinto, Maria Lourdes Fernandes and team singing Sakkad Sangatha Melyam Hymn during Vamanjoorians Monthi Saibin Festh. Dubai . 2011. (uploaded on YouTube by Vijay D'Silva)

6 comments:

Reena D'Sa said...

Happy feast Gerry. Reena D'Sa

Anonymous said...

Very touching post dear friend. You a skilled master in stirring our emotions. Good, keep doing. Thank you. Neeta

Jista Agarwal said...

Great post with lost so feelings. Jista

Veena Naik said...

Liked this Mother Mary special. Thanks. Veena

Anonymous said...

This is special, in deed! Thanks, Uttam

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Thanks all of u for ur kind words. Glad u loved the post. Love. GERRY